Triumphing over adversity: A mother completes her family

Archive, January, Month, Patient Stories, Topics

After multiple miscarriages, one patient-doctor team brings a baby to term against the odds.

Annette so wanted to complete her family.

“He’s a blessing,” she said. “My miracle.”

The improbable birth of her son didn’t come without a measure of heartache and struggle, but her faith, perseverance and the commitment of her physician ultimately brought her great joy when she brought Willie Jr., into the world.

“I saw her lose three babies,” said Dr. Linda Karadsheh, an OB/GYN with McLaren Macomb. “I couldn’t witness it again. I would call upon every ounce of experience and medical knowledge I had.”

Early in the 2000s, Annette lost two pregnancies (in 2002 and 2003) before successfully carrying her daughter Marie to full term in 2009. She succeeded with the aid of a cervical cerclage, which she credits for the success of that pregnancy.

Annette had an incompetent cervix, a condition in which cervical tissue is weakened and opens early during the pregnancy, causing premature births or miscarriages. A cervical cerclage is a procedure meant to prevent early delivery, stitching the cervix closed until shortly before labor.

Raising and loving her daughter brought her so much joy, as she knew it would, and her life was made even more fulfilling when she met and, in 2011, married her husband, Willie.

Together, they looked to have another child. “We have a girl,” Annette said. “We wanted to have a boy — we were hoping for a boy. But as long as the baby was healthy it didn’t matter.”

She became pregnant in 2012. It was with this pregnancy that she first met and came under the care of Dr. Karadsheh, who has guided countless mothers to successful births through her Clinton Township office.

“Usually, when you’re facing any issue like this, when you find something that works, you’re good,” Dr. Karadsheh said in regard to placing another cervical cerclage. “We had reason to be optimistic.”

However, an ultrasound showed the child (a boy) had a heart condition and, at 21 weeks, Annette miscarried.

“This was the toughest,” she said. “Docs couldn’t save it, and I held it. Took that one hard.”

Dr. Karadsheh recommended she take some time and then try again when she was ready.

In 2014, Annette again miscarried. With a cerclage, the pregnancy failed at 21 weeks after an infection was discovered in the amniotic fluid (chorioamnionitis). The infection also placed Annette in danger, critically lowering her blood pressure and heart rate to the point where she needed to be hospitalized.

She experienced a similar infection and fate in 2015, miscarrying at five months.

“Dr. Karadsheh cried with me,” Annette said. “I wanted to give up. She said to give it some time. I thought on it and prayed on it with friends and family. That’s another thing I love about Dr. Karadsheh — she’s very passionate and loves her job.”

Annette felt confident in her decision to stop trying. Years of heartache had taken a toll on her—mind, body and spirit. She let the next two years pass.

But then Annette, a deeply religious woman, felt destiny intervene.

Once she decided to stop trying, she had requested that Dr. Karadsheh put her on birth control. But in February 2017, a glitch at the pharmacy failed to refill her prescription.

In April, Annette’s daughter told her about a dream she had the previous night, a dream in which she had a baby brother. She also told Annette, pointing at her belly, “You look like you have a baby in there.”

Her daughter’s comments weighed on Annette’s mind, so she decided to take a pregnancy test with no expectation of finding anything. But it came back positive and was confirmed by Dr. Karadsheh.

“This was the first time I became negative,” Annette said. “I immediately assumed I was going to lose the baby again.”

But Dr. Karadsheh was determined not to let that happen. “I was going to throw everything I had at the problem,” she said.

For her incompetent cervix, Annette received another cerclage. But for the infection, which Dr. Karadsheh called “unusual” and found no cause for, she prescribed Annette a daily antibiotic.

And, using Annette’s previous miscarriages as a guide, Dr. Karadsheh began weekly progesterone injections. These injections combat the premature births Annette was susceptible to in the past.

“Her compliance was excellent,” she said. “Every single thing I said, she did. That played a huge role in the outcome.”

Dr. Karadsheh began Annette’s progesterone at 16 weeks, both injection and vaginal progesterone, administering it in both forms, which was not standard, but she did so to ensure its effectiveness.

“I was very nervous around the 16- week mark,” Dr. Karadsheh said, “because it was around then the last time that we lost the baby. And it would be unusual, for her specifically, to get to 20 weeks.”

But once Annette and Dr. Karadsheh made it past the 20-week mark, they felt they overcame a giant hurdle, triumphing over her history.

“Usually when you find something that works in a successful pregnancy, you replicate that and have another successful pregnancy,” Dr. Karadsheh said. “Her case was different, and very unique, but she never had a hopeless feeling. Her faith and the faith she put in me led to success.”

Annette added, “Dr. Karadsheh never gave up on me.”

Success came at 12:39 a.m. on Dec. 22 in the Family Birthing Center at McLaren Macomb hospital when Annette and her husband welcomed Willie Jr., into their lives.

“I cried,” Annette said. “I just broke down.” The experienced nurses (some coming in on their day off) shared in the emotion.

“I told Dr. Karadsheh in the beginning to please do whatever it takes for me to have this baby,” said Annette, whose family is now complete—she is officially done having children. “It was an experience and incredibly emotional.

“She’s my favorite doctor. I love her to pieces.”